Viettel to spend big money on upgrading undersea cable network

October 13, 2015 | 09:00 am GMT+7

The military telecom group Viettel plans to spend $20 billion to upgrade the InterAsia undersea cable network with an aim to strengthen the connection for its 20 million internet subscribers.


The Prime Minister has approved the project to upgrade the capacity and change the technology of the InterAsia (IA) undersea cable. This comes after repeated problems with the Asia America Gateway (AAG) cable. 

In Vietnam, enterprises involved in the internet have to ask for the Prime Minister’s permission for plans related to undersea cables.
Le Dang Dung, deputy CEO of Viettel, said in Thoi Bao Kinh Te Sai Gon that with the upgrade, Viettel would have an additional 750 Gbps of international internet connection capacity through the IA network, which is 15 times higher than the capacity Viettel has on its network.
The total capacity of the IA network which connects Singapore, Vietnam, the Philippines, Hong Kong and Japan, with a length of 6,800 kilometers, is 320 Gbps.
The undersea cable network, operational since late 2009, had initial investment capital of $200 million, and was developed by TATA Communication as the main investor. The Vietnamese EVN Telecom contributed capital to the project.
With the current capital contribution, EVN Telecom can use 50 Gbps for the cable network. As EVN Telecom has been taken over by Viettel, the military group will have the right to exploit IA.
IA is one of three channels through which Viettel connects with the world. The other two include AAG and the land cable network which connects with other countries through China.
Dung said the connection will increase the bandwidth of Viettel’s international connection and ease the reliance on AAG. 
AAG is the undersea cable network which undertakes 70 percent of Vietnam’s international connection capacity. 
Viettel has also been providing services through  AAG. However, the problem is that troubles occur regularly with the network. It broke down several times in the last few years. 
Every time, the internet connection of Vietnamese subscribers was seriously affected.
At least 20 million subscribers use Viettel’s fixed and mobile internet services.
A telecom expert said that investing in another cable network is what telcos have to do to reduce risks and to ensure internet access when cable networks halt operation for maintenance or in case of emergency.
Because of Vietnam’s geographical conditions, undersea cables are the best solution for Vietnam’s connection with other continents, while land cables can only allow Vietnam to connect with China, Laos and Cambodia.